My Testimony

A little while back, we were visiting my parent’s house. During our time there, my parents asked me to sort through some of my old stuff and decide if there was anything I wanted to keep or whether stuff could be chucked. Apparently when you’re 28, married, have two kids and haven’t really lived at home full time for about 10 years, your parents decide it’s probably time for you to finally take your stuff away. As I sifted through various folders containing bank details and GCSE certificates, I came across two handwritten pieces of A4 lined paper with the heading “My Testimony”. I had written this about 11 years ago, shortly after I became a Christian. I think Jon March had probably told me I should write it down before I forgot. Well I did, but it had sat forgotten for over a decade. Needless to say it had some sentimental value and I wanted to hold onto it. Now finally I’ve typed it up and put it onto my computer and as we’re in a week of interviews and testimonies at All Saints this week, I thought why not share mine. I’ve copied it below and it’s all as written by 17 year old me, with no changes, even if I would’ve liked to have tidied it up a bit.

My Testimony

I was at Soul Survivor B 2003. I was enjoying the experience, especially the worship as that was the only time I felt I was really connecting with God. Even then, I had doubts about whether or not it was actually the music I enjoyed or the praise. I have now come to the conclusion that it was a mixture of both and the reason I liked the music was because the Lord had given me a real passion for it. Despite feeling connected to God during the musical worship, I was saddened that I didn’t feel anything when I was being prayed for.

The main tent at Soul Survivor

I had had prayer on about two occasions, with people placing their hands on me and praying for various things, including healing. The prayer for healing went unanswered and I felt upset and angry with God as I was truly asking him to come into my heart. I also was sad about it because it was evident that people around me were getting healed and some very quickly. I began to think that the only way the Lord would really give me some sort of sign was when people laid their hands on me and prayed for me. I felt that my prayer wasn’t good enough to warrant an answer.

On the third night of Soul Survivor, Mike Pilavachi did not ask people who wanted particular prayer to stand up and for people to pray for them by laying hands on them. Instead, he asked everyone to stand and to pray in whatever way we wanted for the Lord, the Holy Spirit to come down upon us. I heard people screaming in what I thought was tongues and Mike was saying that he knew some of us had anger rising up in us and that we could let it out. I was feeling nothing at that point and felt fine, apart from being worried that God didn’t want me. I was also scared at all the noise going on around me and Mike said not to be scared but I still was. I prayed to God , telling him I was scared and asking him to make it right. I asked the Lord to fill me with the Holy Spirit and for Jesus to come into my heart.

I began to tremble in my legs, which I had felt in previous prayer sessions before. However, I was always dubious of this in case it was my body just shaking because I was cold or that I might be somehow faking it. As I went on in praying I began to shake violently. I remembered Mike saying that if we can’t cry here, with God, where can we cry and so I said to God something along the lines of “Lord I’m not afraid to cry in front of these people, so if you’re there please give me some sign.” Almost instantly I began to fill up and I burst into tears. Sam, Oli, Jon and Anthony prayed for me whilst I just let it come down.

It was the most emotional experience I have ever had. I cried for all the bad things that had happened to me, such as the lack of healing and other life problems and it hurt emotionally and I remember thinking maybe I was doing something wrong, as surely I shouldn’t feel this upset. I was crying because I knew I had made mistakes. But whilst I cried, I felt that the tears were tears of awe because I knew that it was true, all true and I was going to heaven and I was going live forever in heaven and I could never doubt again. And as I went on praying, there were moment that the tears subsided and I thought the Lord had almost finished saying what he wanted to me but then the tears came again and this time I was crying for the things I had done in my life which had not glorified the Lord and I was saying, “Sorry Lord, I’m so sorry, it’s all true.”

When these tears passed, I felt myself laughing because I just felt so happy but I was so happy that I couldn’t smile or laugh enough to express my happiness so I just had to cry again. Then my tears subsided and I fell to my knees and bowed my head, partly in exhaustion because I had done a lot of crying, and partly because I felt bad for all the wrong things I had done and I cried again.

Eventually, it all passed and I was left tearful but absolutely beaming because I was so happy. How could I doubt now?

Despite thinking, “how can I doubt now?” and the fact this this occurred only a few days before I wrote this, the further the event got away, the more I began to analyse and think about what happened, the more I began to think, “maybe I was just letting out pent up emotion” or “I got caught up in the mood.” I don’t believe that this is because I don’t believe in the Lord, but that it is because it is human nature to doubt. I know he’s there because I felt it to be true so strongly and if it was just me, I would have had some doubts even at the time but I had none. I felt God so intimately but still I doubt as is my nature but even as I write this my faith is reaffirmed as I remember something I think J. John said. “When we pray, coincidences happen. When we don’t, they don’t,” and as I write my testimony of how I felt the Lord, songs are playing on the radio praising Jesus and never before, until now, have I heard music praising the Lord on Radio 2! Now that’s what I call a coincidence. Amen.

Here goes nothing!

As this is my first post I suppose I should just mention why I’ve decided to write this blog. I feel like I have to say something grand and attention grabbing to draw you in. I also feel like that isn’t very likely to happen but hey you never know.

I’m a Christian Youth Worker or Youth Minister as my job title would say, which always seems to make me seem more important and/or qualified than I really am. I guess I’ve really just set this blog up as a place to talk over what’s going on in my job, a place where I can just speak freely (within reason) about the joys and struggles that a job like this brings.

I suppose in the long run, I’d love for other Christian youth workers to be reading this and going “hey me too,” and just encouraging and supporting each other. That would be a massive help to me and if I can be of any help to them, that would be great too. A nice community of sorts.

I guess that my feelings on my ability in this role are slightly given away by my user name and the name of this blog. I’ve been in my position for just over a year now and in all honesty, I don’t really know how I’ve managed to get this far without causing some sort of major disaster. I swear it can’t be long before someone works out that I don’t really know what I’m doing and that anything I do that does work is just a spectacular case of serendipity. I can’t help but feel like a bit of a fraud, a wing and a prayer type. Praise God that he is in control. I really don’t say that lightly. Thank you Lord for getting me safe this far and for the great things you’ve taught me in this last year.

I don’t want to spend a long time talking about background, I’d rather use this blog to just speak about my everyday experiences of Christian youth work as they come along. So no time like the present really.

We had our 11-14’s group this morning during church and the topic was hell. Fun, fun, fun! We’re nearing the end of a series which mentions a lot of the basic Christian doctrines and I had rota-ed myself in to speak on this topic. It was actually OK. I was worried it would be difficult, although I didn’t want to shy away from an important scriptural truth. I spent some time in the week reading the chapter on hell in Wayne Grudem’s “Systematic Theology,” (if you don’t have it, buy it. I love it. I could read it in bed, but then I am a bit odd) and it really hit home the horror of hell and I felt challenged to get that over to the group. The passage we used was Mark 9:42-48 and I talked through how Jesus shows us the seriousness of sin and where that leads us. I used a clip from the Simpsons to illustrate what hell is not like, just to lighten the mood a bit.

We normally break into small groups at the end each session and discuss what we’ve heard. It was hard to judge what they had taken in. I think some of them were frightened by it and so didn’t say much. But it was good to talk through how Jesus gives us a guaranteed way of steering clear of hell. We try and make sure the cross is there every week without fail. It’s easy to think they know all about it but even my limited experience has taught me that you could teach the cross as clearly as humanly possible and some people would still be blinded to it. I just trust that God knows when the time is right to open people’s eyes and in the meantime, we as a team just concentrate on throwing out the seed.

I’m encouraged tonight by our 14-18’s group. We talked a lot about evangelism tonight which is again something we want to keep on the radar of our young people. One of my co-leaders led the session and he did brilliantly. Really engaged the group. He got them to get into pairs and talk for 30 seconds each about something they’re passionate about, then swap over. Then he did the same again but with them talking about what Jesus means to them. I know this would have made some people feel awkward, as actually for some of the group, the answer is probably very little, but it helps to show that we don’t just talk about Jesus for fun, this is serious stuff that people need to know.

The group had been making notes during the evening in regards to friends they wanted to tell about Jesus, as well as on what Jesus meant to them. At the end of the evening a large number of the group handed their notes in or left the paper on the floor, and so rightly or wrongly, I looked at them. I’m glad I did. It was so encouraging to see what they had written about Jesus: salvation, hope, purpose, trust, reliability, forgiveness, everything. Even in these small words I feel like I’m seeing some fruit and that makes me happy. And I’m happy for them that they’re beginning to grasp how amazing Jesus really is. I hope this continues.

Consciously Incompetent